Los Angeles InDesign User Group
PDF Blow-Out and Ad Agency Tour
Thursday, September 20, 2012
by Alvin Takamori
The September meeting of the Los Angeles InDesign User Group was held in the conference room of the Designory, Long Beach office. With three projection screens, I don’t think anyone had a problem seeing what the presenters were doing. That evening we had a lot to see with two different presenters, plus a tour of the Designory offices. If you like variety, this meeting was for you.
Our first presenter of the night was Doug Rosen, project/product manager at the software company Markzware. He gave us a lesson on things to consider, when creating PDF files. It’s not a simple case of clicking Export and selecting PDF. There are choices to be made. First, there are the Adobe PDF Presets. It helps to know exactly how the file is going to be output. For instance, the selection “Smallest File Size” is intended for files that are going online. It reduces the file size, but downsamples, discarding some information. This is not a selection you want to make if the final output is a printed piece.
Another feature Doug made us aware of is the embedding of fonts. These days with the massive size of some open type font files, you may not want to embed the entire font when you create a PDF. The Adobe PDF Presets in InDesign default to creating subsets where it embeds the elements that are used instead of the entire font. You can change this setting by adjusting the percentage of elements to be included in the subset.
Sometimes a printer will request type be converted to outlines to avoid issues regarding whether or not they have a font or can use a font. However, particularly with fonts that have fine details, like serifs, this isn’t the optimum choice for quality. Outlining doesn’t accurately render the font. Fonts have hinting built into them that adjust their proportions according to size. For instance, a small type size will have a heavier serif to improve readability. These details are lost when a font is converted to outline.
Doug also discussed compression of files. When rasterizing images, the process generates artifacts, those irregular pixels, especially in curved shapes and transitions from light to dark areas. The greater the compression, the more the image is degraded, and the effect is cumulative, so every time you compress a file the degradation increases. So, if you save a JPG file, then save it again you create more artifacts.
Markzware recently created PDF2DTP. This software takes any standard PDF file and converts it into an editable InDesign file. One reason you might want to do this is because there are no styles in PDF. When using this software, there are a couple of things to be aware of, PDF2DTP doesn’t support optical character recognition (OCR.) So any bitmapped fonts are stuck that way. Also, it doesn’t create threading between text boxes.
The second featured presenter was Paul Carhart, a graphic artist at the Designory. He showed us some of the work being created there. Many projects start out as CMYK print jobs that are later converted into digital forms for the internet and often targeting use on the ipad. One example Paul shared was an Audi magazine with a fold-out page. The ipad version of this used scrolling to display the complete page. Another section had a series of 15 images printed over a few pages that progressively zoomed from outer space into St. Louis. On the iPad version, all those images were loaded onto a single spot and you cycled through all 15 images, one at a time.
Although it is impossible to control the color consumers see on their monitors when they look at online materials, the Designory uses standard RGB (sRGB.) It’s gamut of colors encompasses most of the CMYK gamut, so the CMYK colors can be converted directly into an RGB counterpart.
Next, Paul demonstrated some interactive features of digital magazines. A photo of an Infiniti could be rotated to view the car from different angles. Pop-up copy would appear when a viewer hovered or clicked on different areas of an image. Animated headlines were created in InDesign, then exported as PDF X4 files and taken into Photoshop to be output as PNG files. Paul then made the interesting point, that the file size of the digital magazines was determined by the target audience. Infiniti publications used more video and audio and other features that increased file size than the Nissan online periodical.
After Paul’s presentation, we had the privilege of touring the facilities of the Designory, thanks to our host, Jeff Schimsky, the head of IT. The Designory had its genesis 30 years ago in the garage of a car enthusiast. It has since grown into a 170 employee company, owned by Omnicom, with offices in Chicago, Nashville and Tokyo along with the Long Beach office. It produces brochures, websites and apps for HP, Nike, Lockheed and Disney in addition to their core automotive clientele of Nissan, Infiniti, and Audi.
The Designory has large open spaces that are sectioned by many cubicles. It has an Art Department, where they buy photos and they have Product Information people, who check critical details like, “does this photo show a car with the correct wheels for 2012?” There is a Print Ordering Department with a Xerox RIP system outputting to different devices. Everything is profiled regularly to maintain consistent color. Especially in the Production Department, where they use HP monitors and Epson 9900 printers. The Designory also uses a Zynet server based open prepress interface (OPI.) 500 MB files are typical, so the OPI system allows them to design with low-resolution placeholder images.
Thanks again to Jeff and the Designory for their hospitality and to the presenters Doug Rosen and Paul Carhart, for an interesting and informative evening.
Dave Thomas traveled all the way from Oceanside and earned a one-year subscription to InDesign Magazine. As a bonus prize, Adobe bags were given away to Jamie Adams, Xandra Zamora, and Chris English, who also won the big prize of eDocker Tablet Publisher. Other lucky prize winners included Patti Laurrell, one-year subscription to InDesign Magazine; Azenith Gueco, three-month subscription to Stock Layouts; Robert Sale, three-month subscription to Fotolia images; Geoff Chin, three-month subscription to Fotolia images; Lea Frechette, PDF2DTP from Markzware; and Paul Taylor, both Adobe InDesign CS6 and Type DNA.
Thanks to all the sponsors and donors of raffle prizes: Adobe, eDocker, Fotolia, InDesign Magazine, Markzware, TypeDNA, Stock Layouts, O’Reilly Press, Peachpit Press.
This month we welcome Armando Villa who is heading up Student Operations, charged primarily with bringing word of our group to local colleges and universities, and recruiting students to become members.
We are looking for someone to be our liasion to book publishing companies including Peachpit Press and O’Reilly Press. This includes ordering books for raffle, selecting review copies, recruiting reviewers and managing the review process.
The title of the November meeting is "CS Apps for Dummies: What They Do and Which One to Choose if More Than One Do the Same Thing." Do you know what all 20 CS applications and six services do? Come to this meeting and find out. Our presenter is Theresa Jackson, a columnist for "Sign of the Times" magazine, and two-time Guru Award Winner (Artistic category, 2010, 2012) from Photoshop World.
The meeting will be held at Otis College of Art and Design on Thursday, November 15, 2012, from 7 to 10 p.m. Otis is in Westchester near LAX. Parking is free. Yea!